x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 16 August 2017

How can a Dubai tenant ensure his commercial landlord accepts his notice of termination?

The tenant alerted the landlord via email and registered post but has had no response.

Mario Volpi advise on the latest property issues in Dubai. Randi Sokoloff / The National
Mario Volpi advise on the latest property issues in Dubai. Randi Sokoloff / The National

I have given a notice of termination to the landlord through email and registered post. We don't have a physical address, only a PO Box. This is for a commercial villa and we have had no response from the landlord nor an acknowledgement of the communication, which was sent over to him. Please note that this is a long-term tenancy and it has a clause of a two-month notice for termination. The next rental cheque is due soon. Kindly advise me on the process of getting the landlord to accept the termination notice and if not, what other means do I have to get released from the tenancy contract? RP, Dubai 

Sending communications for reasons of terminating a tenancy contract electronically is perfectly acceptable from a tenant to a landlord. However, the 12-month notification to vacate sent by a landlord to a tenant has to be sent via notary public or registered mail. Presumably your notice wishing to terminate is within the two months notice clause in your contract. This being the case, you have fulfilled this part of the agreement. What you do not mention is if there is a penalty to terminate early. It is clearly not helpful when a landlord remains silent but you must get hold of him to effect the vacating process, so keep on trying.

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Let’s consider if he continues to ignore your messages/communications. As time gets closer to the next rental cheque payment, you clearly do not want to fall foul of the law, but you have little or no choice but to make sure the next cheque is not honoured, otherwise you run the risk of losing this sum. If the rental payment is not made, the landlord has no choice but to get in touch with you. Even if he doesn’t make contact but goes to file a police case against nonpayment of rent, you can defend yourself by showing the communications he has chosen to ignore. One very important point here, you must not continue to occupy the villa if you have not paid rent so make sure you vacate as per your notice and put all your affairs in order before the next rental payment is due. Sorting out your deposit and other incidentals can be dealt with at a later stage.

Your other option can be to file a case at the Rental Dispute Settlement Committee (RDSC). This way the RDSC can force the landlord to accept the terms of the contract and release you. This option could take you beyond the date of your next rental payment and will cost you 3.5 per cent of the annual rental amount.

I have a property which we bought while it was rented out. Last year, we renewed our tenant's contract and also sent him a 12-month eviction notice as we planned to move in ourselves.  Our situation has now changed as our stay in Dubai is no longer definite. We gave our current tenant the option to extend his tenancy but he wishes to move out. Can we then look for a new tenant (with the same or a decreased rent) or would we run into legal tangles with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera)? MO, Dubai 

You appear to have done everything in the correct manner so far, especially in offering to renew the tenancy to the current tenant. Despite originally serving the 12 month's eviction notice for reason of self occupation, given that he now no longer wishes to renew, you would be free to market the property to find a new tenant. When it comes to the level of new tenancy, the rent is determined by the market price. If you wish to offer the rent at a reduced amount, this is entirely up to you and you will not have issues with Rera.

Mario Volpi is the chief sales officer for Kensington Exclusive Properties and has worked in the property industry for over 30 years in London and Dubai. The opinions expressed do not constitute legal advice and are provided for information only. Please send any questions to mario.volpi@kensington.ae